Pros: Informative, thorough, lists sources for information
Cons: Biased towards pills
Want to live longer? Want to delay the crippling effects of growing old? Well, you can, according to this magazine, by taking fifty or sixty different pills a day. Sound fun? Read on.
As a not-for-profit organization, the Life Extension Foundation, the publishers of Life Extension, raises money for a variety of research to expand the human life span. From cryogenics to optimal vitamin intakes, the research is very diverse. In a recent issue of Life Extension, there was a review of the projects currently being funded and some seemed purely noble, such as trying to expand the time someone has been clinically dead and can still be revived.
Most of this money comes from readers of Life Extension magazine. Presumably, nearly all of the subscription revenues go to funding this research. while this is most likely a significant chunk of change, by far the largest source of revenue for these projects is through the selling of supplements.
While containing very thorough and expansive articles - which I am very pleased to say contain very detailed bibliographies that list the studies that provided the information for the article, most of the magazine is a catalog for Life Extension products. This is, however, not a sin, considering at least half of most magazines is ad space. Most advertisements are for Life Extension products, which you can order from an order sheet in the back of the magazine or by calling a 1-800 number.
These products are most likely of very high quality and well worth the seemingly high price tag. What I find to be very disagreeable is the strong emphasis on pills, as opposed to natural sources. While I do take supplements, some of which I will review in the nutrition section, I prefer to get my vitamins and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) from foods, usually fruits and vegetables.
In its defense, Life Extension does have, from time to time, some good articles on phytochemicals, such as Lutein and Lycopene that are found in food. For example, an issue several months ago contained a long and very thorough article about the positive health effects of eating blueberries; of course, right among the pages was an advertisement for Life Extension Foundation's Billberry extract (Billbery is the European cousin of the blueberry). The article recommended that people eat half a cup of blueberries a day, and if that was not possible, "supplementation would be okay."
The main problem I see with taking pills instead of foods is that the science behind life extension (both the magazine and the general goal) is very young and we do not clearly know what all the phytochemicals are involved in the health benefits; even in the cases we do know, we are still unsure about if the phytochemical provides these on its own or with the help of other substances or under certain conditions. Until this is known, it is hard to say if extracts contain all the necessary ingredients for the full posistive effect. With slowing down the aging process it is better to be safe than sorry, for their are no second chances.
Life Extension Magazine is strangely quiet on possible negative interactions between phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. This could be because the science behind the magazine is still quite new an the the knowledge does not exist. However, it is known that certain minerals hinder or completely block the absorption of other minerals. Life Extension has mentioned on several occasions, that zinc and copper interfere with each other - too much of one limits the other. Personally, I would like to see a fast facts side bar with every article that lists all the known substances involved in the process or benefit the article is describing, and any known negative interactions between those substances and all other substances. For example, an article about Gingko Bilboa would have a side bar that warns against taking it and blood pressure medicines (this is an actual negative interaction, so do not do it).
One small point, Life Extension Magazine provides letters in the magazine that readers can send to their congressmen to help push for an issue, such as allowing seniors to buy prescription medicine at cheaper prices in Canada. While this is noble in intent, the letters are often harshly written and I would be very embarrassed to sign my name to one of them.
In conclusion, this is a very informative magazine that provides many researched insights into the prevention of aging and premature death. I have learned a great deal from this magazine and will continue to read it for a long time. I would just like to see less of an emphasis on supplements and a more balanced approach to being healthy with wise food and supplement consumption.